Glucose Monitoring: How To Get the Most From Each Stick
Regular glucose monitoring helps those with diabetes in two significant ways.
First, the readings help physicians and dietitians adjust treatment plans to optimally control diabetes symptoms. Second, studies indicate that people who monitor their glucose regularly are more likely to make wise food and lifestyle choices.
However, regular monitoring is only helpful if it is accurate. To make sure you are getting useful results from each glucose test consider the following six tips:
- Expired test strips can give you inaccurate blood sugar readings, so throw them away—including expired unopened containers. Store your test strips at room temperature in their original packaging; never keep them in areas of high humidity.
- Food, alcohol, lotions, and other substances can affect monitoring results, so wash, rinse, and dry your hands before testing.
- Blood drawn from a finger gives the most accurate glucose readings. If you suspect hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), use your finger to test instead of an alternative site. (For less discomfort, prick the side of your finger instead of the tip.)
- To make sure the lancet draws an adequate amount of blood for testing, use warm water when washing your hands. Then, hold your hand below heart level and “milk” the finger you will stick, massaging from the palm downward. If you are drawing from an alternative site, massage the area before testing to increase circulation.
- Use the manufacturer’s guidelines and the control solution recommended for your meter to test the meter’s accuracy. Perform a control test when opening a new package of test strips, or when a glucose check is lower or higher than anticipated.
- You can also check the accuracy of your glucose meter by comparing your meter’s results with a lab analysis. Use your meter to get a blood sugar reading within ten minutes of your blood being drawn by the lab technician. There should be no more that a 15 percent discrepancy between the laboratory results and your meter’s reading.
Good blood sugar control helps those with diabetes have more energy, keep symptoms in check, and reduces the chance, or progression of diabetes health complications—and regular, accurate monitoring helps make good blood sugar control a reality.